Sunday, February 23, 2014

Best Man Down: Movie Review

Drama, comedy, a marriage, a death and brilliance all around.
“Best Man Down” is an independent film about a couple who gets married in Arizona but flies back to Minnesota for a funeral. It’s a comedy! No, scratch that. The funeral is for the best man who died at the wedding. It’s a dark comedy? Perhaps, or a drama. It’s also about the newlywed couple navigating their current relationship. It’s a relationship drama. And it’s also a light mystery as the real life of the best man is uncovered. 2012

Directed by: Ted Koland

Screenplay by: Ted Koland

Starring: Justin Long, Jess Weixler, Tyler Labine and Addison Timlin

Justin Long, Tyler Labine and Jess Weixler in BEST MAN DOWN,
a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
The reports that the film is mis-marketed as a comedy are greatly exaggerated. Part of the brilliance of the film is that it really is every genre. It’s a drama with many light moments of dark comedy and such an intricate structure where defining elements are continuously revealed throughout the film. It gets you hooked, it keeps you entertained, and it leaves you satisfied.

Scott (Justin Long) and Kristin (Jess Weixler) are the newlyweds. He’s best friends with the life of the party and is stuck in a bad job; she suffers from anxiety and has to deal with her passive aggressive mother. Lumpy (Tyler Labine) is the life of the party, and for the first five minutes, the life of the film. The greatly underrated Labine starts the film off with a bang, and then starts the story off as he stumbles to his death in the desert.

Justin Long and Jess Weixler in BEST MAN DOWN,
a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
The dichotomy between the start of a marriage and the end of a life is perfectly balanced with the dichotomy of the Arizona sun and the Minnesota winter. Scott’s, Kristin’s and Lumpy’s life was in Minnesota and the couple must fly back, somehow get the body back, and start to make funeral arrangements. But, as Kristin points out, Scott was Lumpy’s oldest friend, which doesn’t necessarily make him his best friend.

Planning for the funeral means finding Lumpy’s friends, telling his classmates and letting his boss know. But Lumpy’s life wasn’t so clear. The film hints at that from the very beginning, giving it an interesting mystery element to keep the drama up when the comedy slows down. The film seamlessly goes from comedy to drama, and the lives of the characters seamlessly evolve so that almost nothing seems out of place.

Each of the elements in the film have been done before and the story is actually very simple and straight-forward, but “Best Man Down” does it all with well-defined characters, entertaining dialogue, and brilliant structure. It’s one of the best written films of the year, has an indie cast to die for, and is ultimately one of those indie gems that you don’t want to overlook.

Who Might Like This: Anybody looking for a great, simple story of a funeral after a wedding; people who like dark comedies, dramas and relationship dramas; fans of anybody in the main cast.

Best of 2013

Similar Titles:

Ceremony (2010) - The romantic desperation of flawed characters with humour, love and understanding.

Jolene (2008) - "Jolene" is an unforgettable journey.

Short Term 12 (2013) - Realism allows comedy and drama to come together in a fully likable manner.

Free Samples (2012) - A directionless character in a mostly directionless film supported by good actors and some funny lines.